Sheriff says increase in homicides is impacting Sedgwick County Jail

Crime

After a homicide in the 2300 block of North Chautauqua on Sunday, Wichita has reached 37 homicides in the city so far this year. 

Last year, there were 38 total.

Wichita police say the deadliest year since 1975 was 1993 with 57 homicides. 

“It’s unacceptable to have the homicides that we have in this city,” said James Clendenin, a Wichita city council member. 

Concern and the need for action are two things he is expressing right now, as the city deals with an alarming number of homicides. 

“Putting more officers on the street would just give us extra resources to fight crime with, whether it’s processing evidence, whether it’s processing a scene, putting boots on the ground to find or catch those,” said Clendenin.

The city budget does have a plan to increase the number of officers, but Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter says, the increase in violent crimes is taking a toll on the county level as well. 

“We’re 51 deputies short and so when you throw 51 deputies short on top of with the increase in violent crime, and the increase of folks being housed in here for an extended period of time, yes we have people working a ton of overtime,” he said.

Sixty-four inmates at the Sedgwick County Jail have a homicide charge.

“It’s not just the individuals that have been arrested this year,” said Easter. “We also have folks that are still awaiting trial from last year and the year before.”

And, if there is more than one suspect charged in a particular homicide, those inmates have to be separated.

“When they go to any type of hearing let alone the trial, we have to keep them separated over at the county building, which we only have a select amount of cells to do that in,” said Easter. “And, then it takes multiple deputies for each homicide suspect.”

Easter says, this puts even more stress on resources.

“Anytime that you have a homicide case, it does trap our personnel up there because we can’t – we have several other courts we have to be in all day,” he said. “So, then the first people we take is our warrant section. So, they’re not out arresting people and the last step is taking patrol deputies.”

Right now, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office is actively looking to add new employees to the jail.

The number they are hoping to add is between 30 and 40 new hires. 

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